Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 8, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report July 8, 2020.

White River

(updated 7-8-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said water levels on Bull Shoals Lake, Beaver and Table Rock are lowering very slowly, without massive all-at-one-time releases. Bull Shoals Lake is still less than 5 feet from the top of the flood pool, 30 feet from desired power pool level. While river levels are a little higher than some years, the level remains fairly steady – not a lot of big increases or decreases – which keeps the trout happy which keeps the anglers happy. You can experiment with shrimp or with various colors of floating eggs, and you'll bag a bunch, but the action will be faster when you use them together. We've seen tremendous luck this week with silver and blue spoons and spinners; also unleash your 3/16-ounce Blue Fox spinners with red blades. Spinnerbaits are best in the morning.
One of the best baits for a lazy drift down the river is the Berkley pink worm with or without the mouse tail. Try the orange Power Worm, too, to lure the more curious of the trout. You may have heard that Arkansas Game and Fish stocked some golden rainbow trout. They're hanging around Cotter and seem to be partial to purple baits: Trout Magnet purple grub small jig (add some weight for the high water). “It's good to keep a 6-foot distance between you and your fellow anglers, but you can shorten that distance between you and your catch. Keep anglin' and stay aware of surroundings with the higher water.”

(updated 7-8-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says the Corps of Engineers is running a lot of water round-the-clock at Bull Shoals Dam. Drift-fishing is fast. Anglers are catching rainbows while drift-fishing with PowerBait. The bite for rainbows is good. Not many browns are being caught now. They expect water to be running for a while.

(updated 7-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had had two rain events that totaled three-quarters of an inch, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1 foot to rest at 30.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.4 feet msl. This is 4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.2 feet to rest at 10 feet above seasonal power pool and 4 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 6.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 20.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.1 feet msl and 3.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater heavy flows and no wadable water.
The lakes of the White River System are near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water for some to come.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the catch-and-release section at Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (sizes 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite combination is a cerise San Juan worm with a peach egg suspended below it).
John also said, “I recently had a guide trip with a father and son. I have guided them in the past. On this particular day, we had high water. The casting was tough with long leaders a lot of weight and two large flies (a brightly colored San Juan worm with a weighted egg dropper). They had very different levels of success even though they had exactly the same gear. They were using the same rod, reel, fly line, leader, tippet, split shot and flies. Their depth was set the same. The son landed almost 20 trout and the father caught one. What was the difference? It was the way they were fishing.
“The son was a good caster but kept his casts to around 25 feet. With a short line out, he could easily control his drifts. He carefully mended his line to maintain a perfect drag-free drift. He was an intense angler who constantly watched his strike indicator and quickly set his hook at the slightest twitch of it. He fought his fish on the reel and never allowed slack in the line during the fight. He took his time bringing the fish in and never tried to horse them in. In other words he did everything right.
”His father did just the opposite. He has been fishing all his life but had a lot of bad habits. He cast too far. With the line 50 feet or more from the boat he was unable to control his drifts and his line frequently had a high level of drag. This problem was exacerbated by his habit of not mending his line properly. If your line has drag, it is propelled through the water either faster or slower than the current and your fly does not look natural to the trout.
“To make matters worse, he was not paying enough attention to his strike indicator. He was always looking around at the bank, birds or other anglers. I saw the strike indicator go down several times and told him. By the time he set the hook the trout was gone. I was not just sitting in the back observing this situation. I patiently explained what he was doing wrong and gently explained how he could fish more effectively. He did not listen.
“I really wanted him to catch fish. A good guide can put you on fish. He can steer you to the right technique and the best fly for the situation. He can give you suggestions on how to improve your cast, get a better drift and fight a trout more effectively. He cannot catch your fish. If you are going to spend the money to hire a guide, do yourself a favor and listen to him. You will catch more fish.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 691.21 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.20 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 925.72 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-8-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the Corps of Engineers has limited access to the ramps and parking, so Del urges customers/boaters/anglers to call first, especially on weekends. Summer fishing patterns remain in effect, he says. Topwater baits are the way to go early in the mornings. Poppers, the Berkley Wake Bait, a Whopper Plopper, buzzbait or chatterbait will be perfect for power fishing. During the middle of the day, you’ll find smallies and Kentucky bass on main and secondary points, sunken islands, humps, channel swing bluffs and bluff ends. They’re biting well on swimbaits near shad balls. On cloud days with wind, and old big worm is good around sunken trees, near ledges, or use a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue in 18-28 feet for good results. Jewel Special Ops Jig Beaver is good around the bushes in less than 10 feet where you can reach the shore. For smallmouth bass, look to the gravel banks, boat ramps and old roads for good places to drag baits like a Ned rig, a Hula Grub, a tube, or a Lil’ McMinnow. Also drop-shot the bluff points, main lake points and the hump islands in 24-36 feet depth of water.
Bull Shoals is 32 feet high but falling, and the surface water temperature is 84 degrees. The clarity is dingy to clear. Visit Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for video with more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 575.47 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.95 feet msl).

(updated 7-8-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the severe thunderstorms this past week upset the stripers. Fishing was very good until Thursday, due to the lighting storm we had Wednesday afternoon. That storm changed the bite from good to poor – the fish get in a funk and become inactive. It takes several days to see a change.
“Friday the bite picked up and Saturday it was great,” Tom said. “My son found a big school and the clients caught their limit in 30 minutes. My clients got into the action but we missed more than we caught. Saturday late afternoon another big storm passed and Sunday we saw the same inactivity.
“The only thing that has saved our trips is the small stripers 18-23 inches. They are still high in the water column and we continue to catch them on our free lines, which consist of a split shot and hook set back about 75 feet from the boat. The bigger fish are suspended at 60 feet. Once the weather remains stable we will see those fish become active, then the fun will begin.
“For now continue to fish water depths in the 50- to 100-feet range to catch stripers. On the lower, southern end of Norfork Lake, fish the points at first light, then move to the bluff walls where the channel hits the bank. My first-light setup is two long lines 50-plus feet behind the boat with a split shot and gizzards. Downlines are set at 30, 40 and 50 feet. Once the sun is up all the downlines will be set at 60 feet.
“The best walleye bite is bottom bouncers with nightcrawlers along the old shoreline. You get lots of bites but few legal walleye. Fish the rounded points that have a gradual slope.”

(updated 7-1-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, Fishing Norfork Lake has entered its summer pattern with striped bass going deep and most other species hoovering around the old shoreline of roughly 23 feet. It appears there may be a thermocline formed in the 20-foot range, plus or minus a foot or two. Hard to tell with a depth finder when it’s this shallow.
Striped bass fishing has been pretty good once you find the fish. They seem to be moving in and out of the major creeks. I am currently finding them on main lake bluff line points, especially when the point transitions from solid rock to chunk rock or gravel. The stripers seem to be close to the point, but still out in deep water 80 to 100 feet and most of the ones I have been catching are suspended 60 to 70 feet down. Some smaller stripers and hybrids are suspended about 20 to 30 feet down feeding on the shad which is staying close to the surface down to 20+ feet of water. The best fishing time for me at this time has been around 6:30am to 9am. There have been many reports of striped bass being caught lake wide, especially from the mid-lake area down to the dam and from the dam back towards Big Creek. I have mainly been fishing with threadfin and gizzard shad, but vertical jigging a spoon is working as well.
Largemouth bass fishing has also been good. The areas that have been best for me have been the same places where I have been finding striped bass. If there is bait on the points the bass will be from the surface down to about 25 feet. They have been close to the shore all the way to the bottom, especially later in the day, but the times I am fishing they are out in the deep water suspended and feeding heavily on shad. There still has been some topwater action, but this activity is slowing down. Swimbaits, spinner baits and minnow shaped crank baits are all working.
Walleye are being caught just outside of the sunken buck brush or on the old shoreline roughly 20 to 25 feet down. Dragging a crawler harness with a small spinner is picking up some nice fish. Crappie are in the same area, but may move up into shallow water during the day. With our high water there is brush all over the shoreline so the challenge is locating the fish.
The current water depth has been dropping roughly 3 inches a day with constant power generation and is at 576.76’ MSL. The surface water temperature this morning was 83 degrees. The water is clear with a slight stain, which is typical this time of year with the warmer water. Happy fishing and see you on the lake. Hope everyone has a happy and safe Independence Day.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 7-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 20.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.1 feet msl and 3.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater heavy flows and no wadable water.
The lakes of the White River System are near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water for some to come.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the recent flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try an egg pattern 18 inches below a cerise San Juan worm. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. With summer here there is a lot of pressure. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.
Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 7-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. John’s favorite fly on these waters is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.